National | ANZAC

Destiny Church leaders Brian & Hannah Tamaki go to Gallipoli

Brian and Hannah Tamaki at the Italian War Cemetery at Caserta where whānau are buried. Photo / Supplied

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki has made a pilgrimage to Italy and Gallipoli to pay his respects to Kiwis who paid the ultimate price for Aotearoa and said he was moved by the words etched in a stone wall written by Mustafa Kemal.

After visiting Milan and  Rome though the bishop did not meet the Pope, the Tamakis headed to Gallipoli.

In a video sent to the New Zealand Herald, Tamaki said the words of Mustafa Kemal (later Atatürk) who was commander of the Ottoman 19th Division at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and later President of Turkey struck a deep emotional chord in him.

“This touched me more than anything else,” Tamaki said.

Kemal wrote of the bloody battle of the Anzacs: “Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country, therefore Rest in Peace.”

The wall of words written by Turkish commander Mustafa Kemal. Photo / Supplied

The writing continues that the Anzac and Turkish soldiers who were killed lay side-by-side and he called on the mothers who sent their sons to far-off countries to “wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land. They have now become our sons as well”.

Hannah Tamaki said the couple were travelling on their New Zealand passports through Europe and as tourists.

“We were at Gallipoli at the 108th Anzac memorial,” Hannah told the Herald. “We finally got to be part of the amazing event it is.”

The couple also visited a site dedicated to the Maori Battalion.

“We were privileged to visit this site,” Hannah Tamaki said. “Andrew Little had laid a wreath there the day before we visited it. Our tour guide said we were the first group he had taken, and it was also his first visit to the site. It was very emotional.”

Hannah Tamaki said despite the couple travelling incognito, they still got plenty of “kia oras” from loads of Kiwis and Turks.

“We honour and respect the people here in Turkey. They are such beautiful people. The graves and grounds are beautiful,” she said.

“We got many kia oras and chats and it was refreshing to not be known.”

Brian Tamaki said it was sad that there were “so many Māori soldiers’ names missing from the walls of remembrance”.

“We couldn’t help feel deep emotions, about how far they were away from home.

The Tamakis visit the war grave sites in Europe. Photo / Supplied

“We stood there for the whānau that have not been here, on the site that has only just been recognised.

“We can only imagine how homesick they felt, looking out at the ocean.”

The Tamakis also went on the 7km walk with others to the New Zealand service.

Brian Tamaki said his trip to Europe was also to pay his respects to a whānau member, Private Jack Tengaio Tamaki, Service Number 800884 who was an infantry member of the 28th Māori Battalion who died on June 14, 1944, aged 22 and is buried in the Caserta War Cemetery in Italy.

Tamaki and his wife Hannah appeared in Auckland District Court earlier this month over allegations they violated the Covid-19 lockdown last year by organising or attending Auckland Domain protests.

The case will be reviewed next month.